Post by Dan Koren Post by Demail@example.com
Post by Matthew B. Tepper Post by Rolf
Could someone tell me a bit more about the conductor Leo Borchardt?
Google tells me he has been shot at checkpoint Charlie in 1945, but
I read somewhere that he was supposed to have taken over the Berlin
Philharmonic while Furtwängler's denazification procedures were under way,
but that's about all I know. Borchard's death left the way open for a
certain apolitical Roumanian philosophy student to take over instead.
It did indeed. It's interesting to read why the BPO musicians didn't
let that student become Furtwangler's successor in 1954, isn't it? At
least one of the books about Karajan (perhaps Richard Osborne's)
mentions the graveside service for Furtwangler at which said
student/conductor said something like "oh well, he'd become deaf
anyway!" The BPO members who were present, stunned and grieving about
Furtwangler's death, are said to have decided then and there that
someone else would be their next conductor. Karajan.
This is nonetheless something that Celi denied all his life and he had no
less than Elisabeth Furtwangler on his side. What Celi however did was
having the guts to tell the BPO members that they play like a provincial
orchestra while HvK was flattering them. Of course, all of this is only
simplifying the story and the choice of successor was based on many more
factors which have been discussed here before.
Not the least of which was pure, old style,
echt Deutsch racism. It is a matter of record
(though I do not have the exact source at the
tips of my fingers) that many BPO members
referred to Celi as the 'filthy Romanian'.
Of course you don't have the "exact source" because it's nonsense. It
is pretty likely that some members in the climate back then were biased
towards him because he was Rumanian. But it is obvious that the
orchestra as a whole wouldn't have worked with him for a long time
after there was no more necessity to work with him (because other good
conductors were not available or banned from performing pending
denazification) if they had been racially or otherwise biased towards
The reasons they chose Karajan were much more complex than something
Celibidache had allegedly said at Furtwängler's funeral service or
during rehearsal. They didn't choose Karajan OVER Celibidache either.
Celibidache and the orchestra had had problems for a while, not because
they were racist or because of a single incident in a rehearsal, but
because there were many incidences. It looks a lot like Celibidache's
early and sudden success had gone into his head. It also speaks for
himself that for many years later, he was unable to secure any real top
positions and build stable relationships with orchestras until he
finally found his late artistic home in Munich.
At the time Furtwängler died, he wasn't even on the board anymore. The
long and complicated story of Celibidache, Furtwängler, Karajan, and
the BP is chronicled in this well researched book by Klaus Lang
Basically, the reason they chose Karajan as Furtwängler's successor
was that he was the best conductor available for the position at the
time, simple as that. Celibidache was without doubt an extraordinarily
talented musician, but he was also very unstable in more than one
regard. The long odyssey he would make in the next decades until he
finally found his zen guru thing and settled in Munich where he posed
as the enlightened master only confirmed what the orchestra members had
already figured out back then.
I found the concerts I heard with him and the MP highly interesting and
fascinating in some respects, but his music making was also rather
onesided. A lot about him was just posing. All conductors are posers to
a certain degree, that comes with the job. So was Karajan with his
highly calculated and groomed stage appearance. But that was also
typical for the times. It still is, but to a much lesser extent. If you
read reviews from, say, the 50s and 60s, it is extraordinary to what
extent the reviewers were often fixated on the persona and appearance
of the conductors. Sometimes the entire review deals with how the
conductos came across, what his gestures and facial expressions were
like, etc. But at the end of the day, Karajan had much more artistic
substance and didn't need to hold long guru lectures to convince.
Post by Dan Koren
Nor did they forgive him for making them
perform Shostakovich's Stalingrad symphony
in 1946, did they?